08/14/2015
 3 minutes

Vintage Watches

By Robert-Jan Broer
Universal Geneve Tricompax

Vintage Watches

Vintage watches are more popular than ever before. We are not talking about the people who wear watches they inherited from parents or grandparents (although they certainly belong to the category of vintage watches if made before 1990, some say 1980) but about the people who prefer – and buy – a vintage timepiece over a brand new one.

Today, there is a big run on everything vintage. Not only for watches, we see the same happening to fashion. It is no wonder that brands like Nike decided to re-introduce long discontinued collections of sneakers and market them as retro models. There seems to be an entire market for things that are vintage or at least appear to be vintage. However, vintage watches can hardly be called fashion or hype. The market for vintage watches has become way too serious for that; hence all the relatively new auction houses and companies that specialize in this area.

Breitling Chronographe Navitimer vintage Ref 806
Breitling Chronographe Navitimer vintage Ref 806

There is a number of reasons why the popularity of vintage watches grew so rapidly in the past few years. One of them is the fact that vintage watches have a certain uniqueness to them because they show signs of wear and aging. Dials perhaps faded a bit or show discoloration, which is perceived as something beautiful in the world of vintage watches. Due to these signs of wear and aging, it will be difficult to find watches that are exactly the same. Or better said: it has become a sport to look for an example that exactly meets your demands.

Besides the aesthetics of a nice vintage watch, you could also say that vintage watches have certain purity to them compared to new watches. As with a lot of luxury products today, new watches are also marketed as such: luxury items. This means that brands seem to do everything these days to get your attention and make you want their products. This can include associating their watches with the life at the Côte d’Azur, ownership of expensive super cars, or hanging out with celebrities. While in the past, a good watch was just that: a good watch. There is little interest from (most) brands to get you involved in their watches from the past, so buying vintage watches rules you out from becoming a victim of all the marketing blah blah.

There is no need for story telling with vintage watches. No made-up stories that have been used to create new collections or, even worse, an entire brand being built on a fictive story. A vintage watch tells its own story, about the life it previously had. There is no need to pay premium for that real story.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402

Instead, buying a vintage watch can be a lot friendlier to your bank account. Sure, buying a vintage Patek Philippe or that pre-Daytona Rolex Chronograph will be the contrary, but there is more to vintage watches than Rolex, Patek Philippe, and the like.

When you are not a sucker for names with high brand awareness, your wallet will be friendly to you while you can still become the owner of very interesting pieces. What to think of a vintage chronograph with the same movement as the famous Rolex Daytona Paul Newman (Valjoux 72)? Or a classic looking timepiece with a calendar and moon phase complication for the price of what Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe charge for a periodic service interval for one of their watches?

Even with a limited budget, there is something available that will meet your requirements, whether it is about size, certain complications, or a specific style. One warning though, once you step into the world of vintage watches, there’s hardly a way back to contemporary watches.

Always make sure that you know your stuff though, which does take time and patience. However, there’s always someone out there who is willing to help you through, as there are many enthusiasts with the same passion. Besides that, there are plenty of online sources that have wonderful descriptions of vintage watches that will help you to find and authenticate an original timepiece.

Happy Hunting!

Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman'
Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’, Image: Auctionata

About the Author

Robert-Jan Broer

Robert-Jan, founder of Fratello Magazine, has been writing about watches since 2004. However, his passion for watches dates back much further. In fact, he sold his …

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